June 13, 2020
Dear People of Hope,
This past Thursday your Mission Leadership Team made the decision that for the immediate future People of Hope will best live out our mission by continuing with online worship services and refrain from in-person worship.
Last month the Mission Leadership Team appointed a Task Force to provide guidance for how People of Hope could safely hold in-person worship services while following the recommendations of the CDC and State of Minnesota. Their report provided a thoughtful roadmap of possibilities. The work of Sarah Jerde, Wayne Luebbert, Will Schouten, and Pastor Dan is greatly appreciated.
After reviewing their recommendations, the Mission Leadership Team felt that we can best live out our mission through online worship. In order to comply with safety guidelines, in-person worship would require the congregation to:
Keep people apart with proper social distancing.
Avoid singing of any kind, including the playing of familiar songs, as it would be difficult for people to not sing along.
Have only one worship leader.
Refrain from congregational speaking, including the Lord’s Prayer, Creed, or any spoken liturgy.
These restrictions would apply not only to those gathering for worship but also to those live-streaming the service at home. They would result in a stripped-down version of worship that would not have the feel of a normal People of Hope service.
People of Hope would necessarily have to restrict attendance at services and encourage those at-risk to avoid attending worship. This would go against our deep value of welcoming all.
Until such a time as People of Hope can gather with a service that feels like a People of Hope service, we will continue with on-line only worship.
The Mission Leadership Team affirmed the task force’s recommended values that will help guide decisions in the future:
People of Hope will adhere to the guidance provided by the CDC, State of Minnesota, local authorities, and the ELCA, whenever available, regarding how to best promote the health and safety of participants of in-person services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the traditional elements of our pre-COVID-19 in-person worship services will be maintained whenever possible, some practices can no longer be safely performed in the current environment. People of Hope will be flexible, adaptive, and creative in maintaining our connection to God and each other during in-person services, accepting that specific components of worship may need to be modified to promote the safety of participants.
Decisions regarding when and how to conduct services during the Covid-19 pandemic will prioritize inclusivity, welcoming the entire People of Hope community to participate, taking into account the specific needs of individual Member Missionaries.
For those who cannot or do not wish to attend services in-person, an option for remote participation in worship will be maintained.
In-person worship practices will be modified based on new guidance provided by government entities and the ELCA as well as based on feedback provided by Member Missionaries. People of Hope will adapt to our changing environment and embrace the fluid nature of our in-person worship experience from week to week.
Although we will not gather in-person for worship, People of Hope’s ministry continues! The number of those taking part in online worship is significantly higher than would normally attend on Sunday mornings. People of Hope will continue to gather for Bible Study on Wednesday evenings and Friday afternoons. People of Hope will continue to strive for justice in the world by engaging in a book study concerning race. People of Hope will continue to meet the ongoing needs of the church and the larger community as they arise. People of Hope will continue to be creative in regards to meeting online for fellowship events like People of Hops. People of Hope will continue to support and encourage one another in prayer.
May God continue to bless you!
Mission Leadership Team Chair
P.S. As we live in the midst of this pandemic, the Mission Leadership Team looks to move our ministry into the future. A Planning Task Force will soon help People of Hope clarify God’s call to our congregation in the midst of this time, with clear goals of what God can do through us now and into the next year. Your input will be vital to this process. We look forward to the clarity this will bring.
Meet our Pastor
Rev. Dan Doering has served as the Pastor of People of Hope since 2010. He is a graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and has a passion for connecting faith with everyday life.
3703 Country Club Road Southwest
Rochester, MN 55902